Actuate Programming Journal

Report design from a guy who thinks he knows what he’s doing; you decide . . . .

Sort by One More Thing

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You should always sort by one more item than you are asked to in your requirements. Or for that matter one more item than your group sections require.

Unless it would be silly to do so.

Lately, I have been working a little fast and loose with requirements due to some time constraints. It’s a little like RAD but without any of the trappings of calling it that. In any case it’s nice for what it is, but a bit distracting for how it sucks my time away from other clients. The cool part is that for the first time in a long time, I have been able to impose my considerable report writing experience on the output more than I normally might.

Basically, if your last sort item in your ORDER BY clause is not detailed enough to reach the record level, make it that way.

Don’t stop at STATE when you could go to CITY. Don’t stop at MANUFACTURER when you could go to SERIAL_NUM.

You should never have a block of records on a report that could have just a little more organization than they do.

Many of the reports that I have been working with in the past weeks have been nearly nothing more than SELECT * FROMs. And at least in one case they asked me to sort by a worthless value first (one I would have chosen closer to last–if at all). We discussed and decided to insert two more sorting items before the requested one, but to leave the layout as plain as originally dictated. Without changing the layout by adding neat headers for each of the two group sections I added along with the additions to the ORDER BY, I was able to dress up the TOC so that the organization is still available even though its not visible in the normal report layout. And, for the first time ever in a real report, I got to use the GroupOn property to GroupOnHour. Looks good in the TOC after you apply this formatting to TocValueExp property:

Format$([BIRTH_DATE], "h AM/PM")

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Written by Douglas

20061013 at 13:14 pm

Posted in Actuate, Best Practices, SQL

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